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Seniors contend for honors in Nintendo Wii sports tourney

Bonnie Jean Barrett throws the virtual ball during a game of Wii bowling. Barrett was one of 14 finalists in the Virtual Tournament of Champions.

Bonnie Jean Barrett throws the virtual ball during a game of Wii bowling. Barrett was one of 14 finalists in the Virtual Tournament of Champions.

“Two, four, six, eight, who do we appreciate? Helen, Helen, Helen,” chant the fans, waving their pom-poms.

Helen Borgert, 86, steps up and throws, knocking down all 10 bowling pins for a strike.

The crowd goes wild.

Borgert was one of 14 Tucson retirees competing last week in the Nintendo Wii Sports Virtual Tournament of Champions.

Seniors competed in the video gaming system’s bowling, golf, baseball, boxing and tennis at Atria Bell Court Gardens, 6653 E. Carondelet Drive.

The event was a joint project between the Junior League of Tucson and Atria Senior Living residential centers.

Judy Cameron, 68, was excited to compete in tennis and bowling.

“You don’t have to be terrific at it,” she said. “You just have to be involved. And it’s fun.”

Players use a controller to mimic actions performed in sports, such as swinging a tennis racket. The game is fast-paced, with players breaking a sweat.

Laura Hisey of the Junior League dreamed up the tournament after giving a Wii to her husband for Father’s Day.

“My mother-in-law, my father-in-law, my mother, my father, we all played it as a family,” she said. “It was great. I thought how fun would it be to have a citywide tournament for seniors?”

She said the game “creates fun.”

“It helps them to be young again,” Hisey said. “It’s socialization. It’s motivating. It’s teamwork and you’re getting exercise.”

Seniors at the three Atria locations competed in preliminary tournaments. Residents gathered at Bell Court Gardens for the championship.

And they brought fans to cheer on the competitors.

Up for grabs were bragging rights and cash prizes of up to $50.

David Edwards of Bell Court Gardens said some of the 132 residents have been playing Wii for more than a year.

He said the game allows seniors to enjoy sports like bowling, tennis and golf, even if they are unable to participate in the real activity.

“You can do the bowling without renting shoes and you don’t have to lug around a 16-pound ball,” he said. “A lot of folks had to give up tennis or bowling for health reasons, and this has brought it back.”

He said residents can check out the game and play it any time of the day or night.

“If they are not sleeping well and want to play at midnight, they can,” he said.

He said the exercise benefits of the Wii complement exercise programs at the center.

Bonnie Jean Barrett, 85, never bowled a game in her life. But she’s been having fun bowling on Wii.

“It helps you keep active,” she said.

Freddy Fredrick, 81, has been bowling since the 1950s. Wii allows him to continue to enjoy the sport.

“What’s so good is the ball isn’t so heavy,” he said.

Lela Bauman, 84, was sidelined for the tournament, in a neon pink cast after foot surgery.

But she was there to cheer on her friends.

“I’m very athletic, and it’s a great outlet,” said Bauman, who has played tennis since she was 11 and has been playing Wii for a year.

“It’s great because anyone can play it.”

Ana Even (left), 82, and Joanita Edmondson, 90, cheer for their favorite players at a Virtual Tournament of Champions at Bell Court Gardens.

Ana Even (left), 82, and Joanita Edmondson, 90, cheer for their favorite players at a Virtual Tournament of Champions at Bell Court Gardens.

Wii bowling allows seniors all the fun of the game without some of the limitations, such as heavy bowling balls.

Wii bowling allows seniors all the fun of the game without some of the limitations, such as heavy bowling balls.

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The winners

Bowling

1st Place: Judy Cameron, 68

2nd Place:Claire Nasch, 87

3rd Place: Charleen Bratcher, 76

Golf

1st Place: Leland Barker, 83

2nd Place: Dorothy Kalil, 88

3rd Place: Tied: Jacqui Caird, 81 and Judy Cameron, 68

Tennis

1st Place: Don Monagham, 87

2nd Place: Lee Billman, 81

3rd Place: Judy Cameron, 68

Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009

This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

In 2010, a power surge fried a server that contained all of videos linked to dozens of stories in this archive. Also, a server that contained all of the databases for dozens of stories was accidentally erased, so all of those links are broken as well. However, all of the text and photos that accompanied some stories have been preserved.

For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

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